Features local, regional and national fine art and history exhibitions throughout the year
Named in honor of James W. and Mary Lee Jennings
James W. Jennings, native of Danville and son of an avid artist, Helene Jennings, met his wife Mary Lee at the University of Alabama. After World War II, they settled in Danville, he to practice dentistry and she to teach math at Stratford College. Jimmy's lifelong interest in painting and sculpture was flamed by the couple's connections in the academic community. He became active in the local Fine Arts Association which had no home and had to borrow facilities to display visiting exhibitions.
Jimmy had a vision of a fully accredited art museum for Danville and a showcase for the outstanding artists of the region. He also recognized that by working with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and other museums of national stature Danville could show many exhibitions of the highest quality. The challenge was to find a facility and to establish an arts program which would achieve excellence while satisfying the artistic appetite of the community.
When the Danville Public Library determined that the Sutherlin Mansion could no longer meet its needs, this facility became the focus of many citizens as a treasured place to be preserved. Jimmy and Mary Lee set upon an ambitious plan to restore the Sutherlin Mansion and forged an alliance with the historical community to preserve the mansion and to provide galleries and art programs. Many citizens responded to the call and offered their special skills for the project and in 1971 Danville City Council granted use of this building to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.
When Jimmy retired from the practice of dentistry, he became the Director of the Museum and with Mary Lee providing the catering and function planning support, the Sutherlin Mansion came to life as a cultural center. The citizens of Danville and the surrounding area have responded to the energy exerted by them by continuing the Museum's ambitious programs and providing a cultural center for the area.